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Motivating a Team: Five Techniques for Every Personality Type

July 19, 2010

It’s always going to be the case that you find some people easier to work with than others.

Micro Management Image

Rule 4: Avoid micromanagement

Sometimes you can pinpoint the problem immediately (if, for example, your employee is lazy or unresponsive, comes in late and leaves early, shirks responsibility, or constantly questions your authority without cause).

But there are times when your personality just isn’t compatible with those on your team. Unfortunately, you still have work with these people and find a way to motivate them so that the whole team can realize success.

To that end, here are a few simple ways to keep the peace and get everyone working towards the same goal:

1. Talk TO them, not AT them. Talking down to your employees and acting superior is the best way to ensure that they tune out. You don’t necessarily need to be their best friend, but let them know that you’re open to conversation. You can offer clear and authoritative directions as well as keeping an open mind and listening to their suggestions. This is the best way to let your team members know that they are valued and give them a chance to truly participate in the process.

2. Be generous. Nothing motivates people better than the knowledge that their efforts are appreciated, so let employees know that you have noticed their hard work and compliment or reward them for both individual and team successes (anything from a weekly paid lunch to a team-building day to gift certificates could fit the bill, although sometimes a pat on the back will suffice). On the other side of the coin, avoid lambasting them in front of the entire crew if they make a mistake. Simply inform them of their error privately, talk about how it happened, and brainstorm a solution to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

3. Provide the necessary tools. You don’t want to set your team up for failure, so make sure they have what they need to get the job done. If they tell you that they cannot proceed without a costly piece of software or machinery, take the time to determine if you really need to spend beaucoup bucks, if there is a comparable alternative at a lower price, or if they’re just blowing smoke. Don’t simply throw out the idea because you think it is too expensive. It’s your job to determine the needs of your team and outfit them for success.

4. Avoid micromanagement. You hired people for a specific function, so operate under the assumption that they know what they’re doing. Check in periodically to make sure they’re on track (or ask for updates), but don’t hover and intimidate them. It will only make them nervous and more apt to make mistakes (small and large). Let them know that they can come to you with concerns or stumbling blocks and then adopt an attitude of beneficence rather than berating them.

5. Pick team players. No matter how good of a boss you are, there are going to be times when you just can’t motivate an employee. Some people resist every attempt at inclusion. If that is the case, you can’t allow them to compromise your goals and drag the whole team down with them. So don’t be afraid to cut dead weight and find someone who fits your team dynamic and does their fair share. Everyone will be happier when all the cogs fit together and turn as they should.

This is a guest blog written by Kathleen McKenzie who is a writer for Student Grants. Kathleen also gives advice on the pursuit of higher education and career options for young adults.

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